BCAFC programme feature: vs Walsall 20th October, 2020

Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1979/1980 when we were rivals with Walsall for promotion from Division Four. It was Walsall who secured promotion by finishing runners-up whilst we finished fifth after losing the last game of the season at Peterborough United.

For much of the 1970s the Bradford City programme was a very basic affair and relatively old-fashioned, not just in comparison to higher division clubs but also when compared to others in the fourth division. In 1977 there had been an attempt to modernise the programme with the inclusion of photographs for the first time and layout changed from a columnar newspaper style to something more recognisable as a magazine. Even so, the content was minimal. The following year there was further radical change with a colour photograph of the team featured on the front cover which was the first time that the club programme had had colour print.

The changes in 1978/79 proved unsuccessful and sales were disappointing. The following season the colour cover disappeared and the pages were cut from 20 to 16 although the price remained 20p. It was poor value for money and there is the sense that the club made the least effort possible to produce an obligatory match programme. All that can be said is that the cover was very eye-catching and it remains one of the more distinctive designs of old programmes.

The big change in programmes at Valley Parade after 1977 had been the increase in advertising content and in 1979/80 there was even the inclusion of an advert for a Bournemouth hotel, presumably to attract bookings for our away game at Dean Court in March, 1980. Another advert worthy of mention was that for Hammonds Chop sauce, a popular brown sauce then manufactured on Dockfield Road, Shipley. The brand still exists but production was moved from Shipley in 1985 to Harrogate Road in Bradford and then in 2002 it relocated to Littleborough. Hammonds had a close connection with Bradford City AFC and the former Hammonds Sauce Works Band regularly played at Valley Parade in the 1950s and 1960s.

Despite the innovations, the programme of 1979/80 had more in common with those of the 1950s and 1960s than the publications that we are familiar with nowadays. It has only been since 1997 that Bradford City has had what could be described as match day magazines and this has been driven by advances in desktop computers and digital technology. Ironically, the same developments threaten the future of match day publications and the shift to online media.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.